Top Ten

April 29, 2020

RRU launches Cascade Institute to identify global crises intervention points

Royal Roads University has launched the Cascade Institute to identify intervention points in global crisis situations. The institute, which is collaborating with the University of Waterloo, will focus on addressing critical problems faced by humanity, such as pandemics, climate change, growing wealth inequality, and social upheaval. “The institute will place the current pandemic within a broad, systemic focus on humanity’s global challenges,” said RRU Professor and institute leader Thomas Homer-Dixon. “Finding the opportunities to intervene and put us all on a more positive path is what the institute is all about.” Royal Roads (BC)

NB schools clarify details regarding phased provincial recovery plan

Several New Brunswick postsecondary institutions are providing their communities with more details regarding how the province’s phased recovery plan will affect operations. Mount Allison University and the Université de Moncton issued statements indicating that the campus remains closed, and access remains limited to critical services only. University of New Brunswick President Paul J Mazerolle explained in a statement to the UNB community that the first phase of transitional opening “only includes practicum and research labs under strict guidelines and it does not yet include regular in-person classes.” UNB campuses are not reopening for academic purposes and remain closed to the public. MtA | UNB | UMoncton (NB)

Maple League institutions sign MOU to promote inter-institutional student mobility

The Maple League of Universities has announced that its member institutions – Acadia University, Mount Allison University, St Francis Xavier University, and Bishop’s University – have signed a Memorandum of Understanding that will allow students to more readily take courses from across the consortium. Focusing on online learning, the agreement will allow students to take shared courses and transfer grades and course codes to their home institution without a letter of permission, as well as enabling them to take courses at other Maple League institutions without paying additional registration or tuition fees. “We are excited to see how this MOU can help us with capacity building and resource sharing across our four institutions," said Chair of the Maple League Peter Ricketts. StFX (NS, NB, QC)

No national standard for responding to university students’ refund requests

There is currently no national standard for how universities are responding to refund requests from students due to the pandemic, reports Macleans. Approaches range from flat-fee refunds, to refunds based on individual student's expenses, to prorated refunds. Some students are asking for greater transparency around how the refund calculations were made. “We just don’t see how they calculated the amount of the refund,” said an unnamed student. “It’s just like, ‘Here’s a number, I hope you take it.’” Universities explained that costs do not necessarily break down into a simple formula. Maclean’s (National)

eCampusOntario mobilizes students, educators for technology-based learning solutions

eCampusOntario has announced that their Educational Technologies Sandbox program and Student Experience Design (SXD) Lab will collaborate to reimagine how the organization tests and explores educational technology. The collaboration will see eCampusOntario combine the user-centric, problem-based approach of the SXD Lab with the technology review methods of the Sandbox program. The two programs will then work to uncover challenges faced by educators and learners in online and technology-enabled environments, as well as testing tools and technologies to address issues. “Incorporating early opportunities for rapid testing and review will not only support informed decisions about which tools to pilot but enable the ability to collectively address more challenges and test more technologies with the Ontario higher education community,” explains an eCampusOntario statement. eCampusOntario (ON)

RDC suspends applications to five programs due to enrolment

Red Deer College has suspended applications to five of its programs to ensure the sustainability of academic operations. RDC’s Instrumentation Engineering Technology Diploma, Acting and Live Entertainment major, Media Studies and Professional Communication Diploma, Adult and Higher Education Instructor Post-Diploma Certificate, and eLearning Instructor Post-Diploma Certificate are among the impacted programs. RDC reports that a key factor in making these decisions was low enrolment. “These programs are not being suspended due to COVID-19 or budget implications, which may have been the expected reasoning,” explains RDC President Peter Nunoda. “When enrolments are low or declining, it is always our responsibility to make decisions that will support RDC’s long-term sustainability.” RDC (AB)

Universities, colleges partner with local organizations to address food insecurity

Postsecondary institutions across the nation are working with community partners to help address food insecurity during and beyond the pandemic. The University of Guelph’s Hospitality Services have partnered with The SEED Guelph to have chefs prepare 500 meals a day for the community’s most vulnerable citizens. Humber College has partnered with GlobalMedic to process and distribute food to people in need. George Brown College’s Centre for Hospitality and Culinary Arts has donated food to Second Harvest to help combat food insecurity and waste. Vancouver Island University’s GR Paine Horticultural Training Centre has made space in its greenhouses to grow more seedlings for transplanting into the fertile fields that Nanaimo Foodshare Society uses for vegetable production. UofGuelph | Humber | George Brown | VIU (ON, BC)

FPSE calls on province to protect unionized workers in suffering private postsecondary sector

The Federation of Post-Secondary Educators (FPSE) of BC is calling on the BC federal government to protect workers in the private postsecondary sector in the province. Specifically, FPSE is asking the provincial government to prioritize funding and support for private postsecondary institutions with unionized instructors, as this is the most efficient metric by which to measure the fair and equitable treatment of instructors and students, and establish a federal tri-partite committee to determine sector-wide practices regarding international education with compliance with collective agreements mandated at the outset. According to FPSE, hundreds of BC private postsecondary workers have lost their jobs and some institutions have said they can no longer operate given the steep decline of international student enrolment due to COVID-19. FPSE (BC)

CMU receives Climate Smart certification

The Canadian Mennonite University has announced that they have received Climate Smart certification, a quantified commitment to greenhouse gas emissions reduction. To become certified, CMU identified and measured its overall greenhouse gas emissions footprint and, based on that data, developed an action plan with emission reduction strategies in the areas of heating, transportation, and electricity. "Being Climate Smart certified means we understand and are tracking our greenhouse gas emissions from year to year, such that we can now actively work together with students, staff, faculty, and the broader community to find inventive avenues toward being more responsible stewards of creation,” explains CMU Campus Planning and Facilities Development Manager Julene Sawatzky. CMU (MB)

UQÀM signs agreement with publishers, allows free access to digital resources during pandemic

The Université du Québec à Montréal has garnered free access to thousands of digital resources during the COVID-19 pandemic thanks to a collaboration with publishers. Érudit, a French platform that disseminates scientific content from the humanities and social sciences now offers free access to almost its entire collection. UQÀM Directrice générale des bibliothèques Lynda Gadoury explained that the university community, especially instructors, will greatly benefit from increased access to these online resources for the continuation of their courses and research work. UQÀM (QC)